This will be my second Mother’s Day celebrated without one of my children. Our 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, was killed in a car crash May 1, 2017. I became a grieving Mama that day. It’s been a very long year for our me and our family.
Mother’s Day, 2017, came merely 13 days after Natalie’s death. It was our first holiday to try to “celebrate.” We were all still in a state of numb, so we didn’t expect too much of ourselves. We just knew that we didn’t want to sit at home, staring at each other, with nothing to do.
At my daughters’ suggestion, we went to a place they had visited just the day before Natalie died. We went to a local state park for a picnic and a hike. Many tears were shed as I watched my three living children together. The glaring reminder of our missing girlie was impossible to ignore. Yet, somehow, being in a different place made it a little easier. It’s hard to explain.
We’ve spent the past year adjusting to this new life without our girlie. It still hurts. It’s still raw. Yet, it has also shown us the importance of celebrating each other at every available opportunity.
If you are a grieving Mama or know one, I’d like to offer some ideas for you to help her celebrate in spite of the heartbreak she is experiencing.
Mother’s Day is, in some ways, the most difficult special day to celebrate. After all, the reason a woman is celebrating is because she is a mother. When a child dies, Mother’s Day can be a very painful reminder of that missing piece of your family puzzle. Even if it was her only child that died, she needs to be celebrated. You don’t stop being a Mama even when your child dies. Every holiday, special day, birthday, etc is a time of remembrance. You think of times past and enjoy those memories. But you also think of all of the memories that you have missed since your child died. The days leading up to special days can be hard.
While nothing will ever completely heal the heartbreak, little things mean a LOT. I believe they mean even more than before. The fact that someone would go out of their way just to try to brighten my day or help me celebrate what could be a hard day touches me so very deeply. Also pushing into it rather than avoiding it means more than you can imagine.
It can be difficult to come up with gift ideas for a grieving Mama, so here are my thoughts and suggestions:
1. A gift of help. Especially if the Mama doesn’t have help. Things like yardwork, small jobs around the house, even housecleaning. The fog of grief tends to remove the feeling of importance for completing even simple, mundane tasks like mowing the yard or washing the dishes. While it will bother her to not have these jobs taken care of, she likely won’t put forth the effort required to get it done.
2. A gift of time. Grief can be a very lonely place. Push through the wall that many grieving Mamas erect to protect their heart and simply sit with her in it. Expect tears, but allow them to flow. She may be sad, happy, wistful, loud, or quiet- or any combination of those emotions and more. Just be present. Hold her hand. Or not. Be sensitive to the situation and her feelings.
3. A gift that speaks of her child. This could be a framed photo, a teddy bear, a pillow, a blanket, a necklace, or any other sort of memory item. I have some cherished items that others have gifted me that are precious. If you have a story of her child, share it. If you have a photo of her child, share it. Hearing her child’s name brings joy to her ears (and likely tears to her eyes.)
4. A gift of escape. Take her out for a day. A local park. A botanical garden. A movie. A concert. Window shopping. The beach. The lake. Something to allow her mind to escape for a bit.
5. A gift card to a local restaurant. I still don’t enjoy cooking like I used to. Taking the burden of cooking off of a grieving Mama will be a very welcome gift. Extra points for this one if the restaurant delivers! (I do not recommend taking a grieving Mama out to eat on Mother’s Day. She will likely see other families happily celebrating together and that may be more than her heart can handle.)
As you can see, blessing a grieving Mama on Mother’s Day (or any day, really) is not complicated or difficult. It doesn’t even have to cost a lot of money. It just requires time. Time is a commodity that grieving Mamas appreciate all the more. They realize how very fleeting time truly is, for it likely stopped for her the moment her child died.
Reach out to that grieving Mama and offer her one of these gifts. She will be grateful that you care enough to do so!
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